Islamabad: A fresh case of an underage Hindu girl being abducted in Pakistan’s Sindh province has come to the fore, even as uproar continued over the alleged kidnapping, forcible conversion and marriages of two teenage girls from the minority community.
According to a handout issued by the Sindh Information Department, Minorities Affairs Minister Hari Ram Kishori Lal took note of a news that went viral on social media regarding the abduction of a 16-year-old Hindu girl, who belongs to the Meghwar community, from Tando Bagho in Badin district.
The victim’s father has approached SSP Badin, Sardar Hassan Niazi, to register a case against suspects. It was, however, not clear when the girl was abducted.
Lal has directed authorities to register an FIR of the abduction and provide protection to the girl’s family.
He said that the marriage of underage girls is banned in Sindh under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013, adding that it was a criminal act to marry a girl who was below the age of 18 years.
Lal said that the Act is being strictly implemented in Sindh.
The minister said that his government was doing everything to protect underage Hindu girls. He said the Sindh government is working to establish the Sindh Minorities Protection Commission and its draft has been approved by the chief minister two days ago.
The fresh case of kidnapping comes amidst nationwide outrage over abduction, forced conversion and marriages of two underage Hindi girls in Ghotki district in Sindh.
The two girls, Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.
A war of words broke out between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry over the reported abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of the two Hindu teenagers.
The spat started on March 24 soon after Swaraj sought details from the Indian envoy in Pakistan into the reported abduction of two Hindu teenaged girls.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to take action on the incident.
The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered official protection for the two girls due to concern about their safety as authorities widened a probe to ascertain if the teenage sisters were abducted, forcibly converted and married.
Police has arrested the cleric who solemnised the wedding and six others for their alleged involvement in the girls’ forceful conversion to Islam.
Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.
According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province.
According to media reports, approximately 25 forced marriages take place every month only in Umerkot district in Sindh province.